So, you remember from my previous post how disappointed I had been by the lack of snow and then how excited I was my last night in Liège 'cause of a little bit of snow? Well I got plenty more snow on my way back down to Spain! :p
This is how things looked in Liège (on campus) when I left (I didn't have much time to wander around taking photos, had 2 meetings that morning and had to finish packing, last-minute chocolate shopping and loading the car, only got it all done thx to a friend's help!):
By the time I finally hit the road it was getting dark and I was stressed out about the possibility of driving at night through the Ardennes over snowy-icy roads (I wasn't worried about the dark since Belgian roads are all lit-up!). Well damn was I lucky!!! All along the drive the radio broadcast was punctuated by the "info routes" every 20', which kept informing me of a snowstorm moving across Belgium from the coast inland, with Brussels paralysed by the snow (and I later heard ditto the Eurostar, poor people stuck in that tunnel -which is a rather cool one by the way!), snow covering the country, accidents all over the place... except in the provinces of Liège and Luxembourg (Lux is the country, but the neighbouring Belgian province that covers the Ardennes is also called Lux)! In other words no problems at all on the E25! YES!!! And then I cross into France, and ditto! Radio talking about Paris under the snow etc, well when I got to my friend's house in Nancy, they hadn't even seen the tip of a snowflake! Situation which quickly changed since I woke up Friday morning to see this:
not too much, not bad, wasn't going to use it that day anyway since hanging out with my friend and her new baby and going into town for the Christmas market...
Things got a bit more complicated on Saturday when I was scheduled to continue on down the road. I woke up to find quite a bit MORE snow on the car:
but managed to have some fun with it anyway:
So I continued on South, pretty much following the inverse path I took in August on my way up. A beautiful crisp winter's day, with lovely white fields...
and highways covered in salt to keep the cars from slipping, but icky salt that kept being splattered up on my windshield and after a while making it impossible to see through (even worse when the sun was hitting directly on it, like a white wall instead of glass!) and so having to stop every 50km or so to pore water on it to clear it off (the windshield wiper liquid sprayer thingy being blocked, grrrr!)!!! The day's étape ended up taking 90' longer than it should have. snif!
I spent the night in Valence instead of Lyon (my stop on the way up, big confusing city if you don't know your way around, which I don't). It's a lovely little city (about 100'000 inhabitants) I'll tell you about some other time (not much to see but what there was was beautiful!). I wandered around town Sunday morning for a bit to visit and enjoy the "last" of the snow:
Did you notice anything curious in that photo? Hmmm, apparently someone else had been having fun with the snow recently as well! Look in closer:
My original plan had been to head straight down to Barcelona (5h drive) from there, but when reading a little folder about "things to see" in the region I came across the mention of the tallest "donjon" (the keep or main tower from a medieval castle) in France just a short drive away and I knew I HAD to stop and visit! :p
Doesn't that "paysage" look gorgeous? The light came and went throughout the day...
Here's the Donjon overlooking the town of Crest:
And a more impressive look:
I spent a short hour (could have spent 2!) wandering up and down stairs (very impressive place and very informative if you're a fan of the middle-ages, which I am!), and then continued on my road... with a very dirty car:
thanks to all this damn brown stuff:
which I guess I should be thankful for since it keeps the roads from being icy.
For some reason (running late? tired?) I didn't stop for anymore pictures on the way down. I will say the countryside was gorgeous all the way down. I didn't see the snowy Pyrenees since I crossed at night. And the last snow caps I saw were on mountains around Tarragona. The thermometer didn't hit (and stay above) 0ºC until Avignon. It hit the double digits when I entered the Comunidad Valencian, and then stayed above 15ºC once I entered the province of Alicante. Quite a difference arriving home to 17ºC weather when it had been -10ºC when I left Nancy 2 days before! Unfortunately I had also changed gorgeous blue skies for grey rainy ones! It didn't stop raining until I left Cataluña! But at least it "washed" the car... lol!
Now it's time to prepare and enjoy Christmas. I'm going to try to put together a "12 Days of Christmas" series... but I don't have internet at home any more (no point paying for 4 months of non-use) and I don't have time to figure out how to get service, too busy settling in and preparing Christmas! So I can only connect sporadically when I come to my parents'.
And I'm sorry I missed the Fishy Friday post last week... I was on the road and the days before was going crazy trying to get everything done for the trip. :p